Aruba Trip Reports

Trip Report Casa Del Mar

June 13 to June 27 2009 by Joe

Aruba Forum Profile: Joe

Drove the rental car to JFK on Saturday June 13, dropped off DW & DD at Jet Blue Terminal 5, dropped off car at Budget, took Airtrain to Terminal 5 & proceeded to check in. Guy at the check-in was having all sorts of problems getting us processed – I think the clerk to our left must have processed 4 or 5 parties while our guy was doing us. The rest of check-in went pretty smooth. Terminal 5 looks great with free WiFi access & plenty of places to eat. They have computer terminals to place orders & swipe your CC & then you pick up the food. Boar’s Head makes fresh sandwiches to order. I bought 2 duty-free bottles of 1 liter bottles of Jose Cuervo at $20 a bottle. After we got to Aruba & I got to the supermarkets – noticed that the same stuff was selling for $30 to $31 a liter.

Plane was on time. Odd thing was that an attendant was asking for a volunteer to move from a seat in the rear to a seat up front in order to balance the plane. Never heard of that. So, one tall thin young guy got volunteered and separated from his group to move to the front. When we landed in Aruba, the guy went back to his original spot to get his overhead stored bag and commented that there were several more empty seats in the front. But, the flight attendant had said that the pilot wouldn’t take off until the plane was balanced. Other than this, the plane ride was uneventful. The lines at customs were much longer than we’ve seen in the past. Hans from Tropic met us and we got the usual white Yaris. Hans gave us a ticket to get through the airport parking lot gate, but the machine at the gate could not read the ticket. Hans called up to have an attendant come open the gate. Took about 15 to 20 minutes for the guy to show up.

Arrived at Casa Del Mar around 5:00 or so. We saw CDM, but had trouble getting to the front – went around several times before I figured out that you had to turn where the sign for Manchebo is & go past ABC to get to CDM. DW checked us in and the bellhop loaded our suitcases on his wagon. He asked the clerk "what room" & she said 1313 (thirteen – thirteen). He asked us & we said the same thing. Then he proceeded to walk out the front with our luggage and we followed him – I assumed that maybe there was an elevator somewhere outside the building. But, when he started to cross the street, we figured something was wrong. Yelled at him to stop & asked him where he was taking us – he was going to the Ambassador suites across the street. Instead of 1313 he thought everyone said something like 3513. Finally got to our room. DW started unpacking, DD went down to the pool, & I went to the supermarkets to pick up stuff. We had reservations at Chalet Suisse for our first night, but after this long travel day – we opted to just go down to Matthews (restaurant reviews were already posted). DD had a friend who joined us on Monday – drove to airport to pick her up. We switched to room 1518 for our 2nd week, which had a much better view that 1313. Switching rooms was more complicated at CDM than at CLBR (we’ve down that twice there when we added an additional week to our regular 2 weeks) and wasted a bit of our (DW & I – DD & friend were at the pool) time. We liked CDM and wouldn’t hesitate to go there again, but I guess we’re somewhat prejudiced and like our CLBR better. The 2 BR units are almost identical in layout to CLBR – only major difference was that CLBR has a dishwasher while CDM does not – this was not a big deal for us.

Noticed that there was a bit of beach erosion at CDM. During our first week, 4 palapas fell on the left side (looking out towards the sea) and another was in danger of going down. I took walks every day to CLBR (we have 2 regular weeks there in Sept) and noticed a high ridge at Bacuti with a sharp slope into the water. Beach at CLBR looked OK – no large waves as at CDM. None of the low-rise resorts looked crowded on the beach. I took some pictures, but have never posted pictures anywhere – will try when I get some time. First time we saw what I would call "Bungi Surfers". They would attach a Bungi type of rope to a line out in the sea (I found the line attached somehow under the sand in the sea) and then several of them would strain to pull on that Bungi cord/rope (there were 2 handles attached to the cord). When they got the tension they wanted, one of them would get on the board while holding on to one of the handles, and then the others would let go of their handle – propelling the guy on the board towards the sea. On another day, I saw a different group of guys tie their bungi cord to a rock at the end of the beach right close to the water (maybe they didn’t know about the other line). This seemed more risky since they would have to let go of the bungi cord before they got a "facial" on the rocks.

We had a mostly relaxing vacation - spent most of the time on the beach. I would make drinks for DW & me around 2:00 (we have a great soft cooler & 32oz canisters). I bought a case of Balushi & 2 6-packs of Brights – drank most of it myself (DW doesn’t drink beer), but I suspect DD & friend had a few. This is the first time we didn’t make a trip downtown to do shopping. I drove DD & friend downtown a couple of times to do some shopping. I also would drive them downtown to do dinners & movies and they would take a taxi back. We went to Paseo Hacienda one night after dinner to watch the water show and met up with DD & friend who were having sushi at Nobuishi – place was pretty crowded. We didn’t do any boat rides this trip (been there, done that), but DD & friend spent a day at Morgan’s Park and spent a full day at De Palm Island – they had a good time.

I knew that Tom Frederick would be down around the same time & looked for the red Maryland T-Shirt when ever I would take walks. First week we stayed mainly on the left side (looking towards the sea) of CDM, but after the 4 palapas went down we stayed right in front of those ABC units at the beach. DW spotted the red T-Shirt during the 2nd week, so I walked over to Tom and I chatted with Tom & his wife Pat for a few minutes. Very pleasant, lovely couple – Tom mentioned that this was the first time in years that he didn’t have any of his children or grandchildren come along.

I had to make 2 trips to airport when we were leaving – drove DW first with all the luggage and then picked up DD & friend for 2nd trip. I was earlier than the 3:00 PM car pickup that we had emailed Hans, so DW called Hans & he quickly showed up to pick up the car – it’s always been a pleasure dealing with Hans & we’ve already made reservations with Hans for September. Lines were short, but I somehow managed to set off the alarm – seems like the 3 passports in my pocket set off the alarm. They changed the duty free setup – you know take the booze with you – I got a liter of Campari & Ketel One vodka. After we got past US Customs, I noticed that they had duty free liquor there as well – so I picked up a liter of Gentelman Jack bourbon. Based on my knowledge of prices, I figured I saved a total of around $30 (incl taxes) on the 3 liters. We got those Panini sandwiches (Cadushi Chicken) & wine at that small bar next to Gate 6 – we think that’s the best value & best food at the gates.

The 6:20 PM flight back was uneventful – the pilot mentioned that we would probably arrive 15 minutes early – didn’t happen & to boot, we had to wait for another plane to pull out before we could dock. It took a while to get the luggage and then I hopped on the Airtrain to pick up the car at Budget. When I went to get out of the car lot gate, I noticed the guard was fast asleep – I knocked on the window, but couldn’t wake him up – had to get out of the car to wake him. Picked up DW & DD (DD’s friend was taking Airtrain to Jamaica, then taking train to Penn Station, & then taking train to Wilmington, DE – DD will be a senior at Univ. of Delaware this Fall) and we headed home to Northern Westchester – got home at around 1:45 AM. After I got the luggage inside, I went to take a shower & the water was ice cold – looks like the boiler went south as we went south. Felt like crap going to bed that night. Took a shower the old-fashioned way on Sunday – heated a pot of water, mixed in some cold water – soaped down (like in the Navy) and took a quick cold water shower to rinse off. The boiler got repaired on Monday – it was the Selenoid that failed.

Looking forward to our trip Sept 4 – 18 at CLBR. Only bummer will be that Chalet Suisse will be closed then.